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Manic Monday Markup 8/6/12…

…And the World:

In one of the most high-profile defections in the conflict so far, Syria’s Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab, and other ministers defected as the regime of Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups continue to battle.  The White House has said the days of Assad’s regime are numbered, even as the regime has pummeled areas of the country thought to be held or sympathize with groups that seek Assad’s ouster.  Syria quickly suppressed the Arab Spring within its borders, but unlike in Libya, defections from within have only recently picked up.

Meanwhile in Great Britain, after efforts to reform the House of Lords collapsed, the coalition government of Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has descended into chaos once more.  Liberal Democrats were expected to support constituency boundary changes (redistricting) since Cameron put forward Lords reform.  Reforming the country’s unelected upper house was put off after a rebellion from rank and file Conservative MP’s.  Clegg now says, essentially, Lords reform is dead and will instruct his members to vote against boundary changes, which he says without Lords reform will only strengthen the executive branch, that is the cabinet.  Lords reform was a critical component of the contrast Clegg made with Cameron when the 2010 election left no party with a majority in Parliament.  If there is a winner in this it is Ed Miliband and his Labour party.

The New York Times has a profile of Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, who endured torture when she was a guerrilla in the 1970’s.

The Feds:

The investigation continues into this weekend’s shooting at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee.  As details have emerged, it is looking like the shooting, which took the lives of seven (including the alleged shooting, killed by police), was an act of domestic terrorism.  This is in contrast to the shooting in Colorado, where the perpetrator appears to have suffered from some mental defect.  Several of the injured, including one of the first officers on the scene, remain hospitalized.

Springfield was in spotlight Friday as the Hall of Fame played host to First Lady Michelle Obama.  The fundraiser, reports WAMC’s Paul Tuthill, is thought to have raked in over $250,000 brought in governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut and preceded two other fundraising events with First Lady in Berkshire County, one of which featured James Taylor.

Democrats are defending more seats in the US Senate than the Republicans by far.  Indeed only four seats held by Republicans are thought to be competitive or even remotely so.  Democrats, meanwhile, are facing tough challenges in Florida, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, while Nebraska is being largely written off altogether.  Of those races, however, Missouri may become the national model for secretive outside spending groups as they mercilessly pummel incumbent Claire McCaskill who will not have a general election opponent until tomorrow’s Republican primary.  Missouri is not friendly territory for Democrats, although the party’s incumbent governor is favored to win.

With only eight days left to Connecticut’s primary season, Congressman Chris Murphy, vying for the nomination against fellow Dem and former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, is picking up endorsements from all over.  Senator Richard Blumenthal, who endorsed Murphy earlier this year, cut an ad for the Senate candidate.  Murphy snagged endorsements from the Hartford Courant, the Danbury News-Times and Colin McEnroe.  McEnroe’s endorsement, which includes his picks for other races, includes more than a touch of humor.  Still, Bysiewicz trudges on, reports the Courant.  Chris Shays, running against Linda McMahon’s juggernaut campaign for the Republican nomination also got the Courant’s endorsement.

The State of Things:

Governor Deval Patrick signed several bills from the Legislative Session that ended last Wednesday.  Among those bills was the 3 Strikes legislation the governor had returned to the legislature last week.  His proposed changes were not accepted and he signed the bill in private.  To more fanfare, the governor also signed a bill intended to get health care costs under control.  Among other things, the bill aims to move health care spending in the Commonwealth away from fee for service and toward global payments that would provide doctors with a budget and incentives to avoid needless and costly expenses.

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren made a swing through Western Massachusetts over the weekend.  Yesterday she was in Pittsfield to meet supporters.  Today she toured the Great River Bridge in Westfield with Congressman John Olver, Westfield City Councilors Brian Sullivan and Agma Sweeney and Sam DiSanti, Democratic candidate for the 3rd Hampden House District.  Later in the day she met with black ministers in Springfield including Rev. Talbert Swan, the head of the Springfield NAACP and Rev. Timothy Paul Baymon, the president of the Council of Churches of Greater Springfield.  Speaking only for himself, Baymon also personally endorsed Warren.  On Scott Brown’s side, it has been revealed that his wife, Gail Huff, is taking a leave of absence from the Washington, DC television station where she works to support her husband’s campaign.  This is a sign the campaign is doubling down on its substance-free message, which aims to sway women voters to his side because Brown loves his family, even if his record is detrimental to women to whom he is unrelated.

In Chicopee, National Night Out in the Springfield area kicked off with a breakfast honoring the Chicopee and State Police that responded to April’s shooting.  Chicopee National Night Out Chairperson Jean Fitzgerald also presented an award to Deborah Paquette a crossing guard near the shooting that helped nearby children to safety.

The Globe Reports that the MBTA only attracted two offers to run its commuter rail system amid belief among potential bidders the current operator had an edge.  The result is a loss for taxpayers (which subsidize the T) and riders (who use it), who cannot see a more competitive process leverage a better deal for the Boston-area transportation agency.

City Slickers:

The Springfield Republican is in the Boston Globe.  The Globe’s Mark Arsenault reports on the effect of the paper’s coverage of the casino debate after it was revealed Peter Picknelly is looking into putting a casino on the paper’s property at Liberty & Main Streets.

Heriberto Flores of the New England Farm Workers Council released bold plans for the redevelopment of the Paramount Theater in downtown Springfield.  Flores says he hopes work can begin next spring.

Twitter Chatter:

When news broke that the Republican’s own land was in play for a casino deal, it struck a nerve.  Of course the Republican had to have its Editorial Board stand down to avoid conflict, as Marty Baron, Editor of the Boston Globe and winner of the week’s tweet prize says.  Certainly, the Globe has had its share of conflicts to cover, notably its near-shutdown a few years ago.  However, the actions of its editorial page were less likely to impact the result in the story the way it could in the Republican‘s case.  There have been many false or erroneous statement that blared from the Springfield paper’s Editorial column.  Yet its voice, loud and far-reaching is eminently critical in a community where traditional media, economics notwithstanding, are still largely king.  For concisely describing the impact the vacuum the Republican has left in becoming part of the story, we award the tweet prize to Mr. Baron.

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